Monday, September 11, 2006

reclaiming ourselves

In a conversation I've been having with some fellow bloggers since posting "how dare I?", several thoughts have come to me.

I did wonder: should I post this on my other blog since it's a spiritual question? No, although this blog is loosely about my garden, it is also about my life and it's ups and downs.

I think at the basis of my struggle has been the fact that I was taught to trust in something external to myself, God, authority, experts. Naturally, in relation to all these externals, I never measured up. It did not help that the target was always moving as well, in relation to the perceptions or definitions of the adults in my life. As I started to discover these inconsistencies, I was a very angry adolescent, because it was as if the rug had been pulled out from under me. I embraced the values and beliefs I had been taught for a few years, but when I was about 24, it just became unbearable. Turning away didn't happen overnight, but the process was started and took several years.

Then followed many years of trying to keep my head above water, wanting something, not sure what it was, and all the while determined not to go back 'there', to the blind trust of my youth.
My children were young, I was working full time and I was so tired all the time, I barely had the energy to secretly dream. Always, I continued to dream.

What did I dream about? Gardens. Gardens were always a big part of my dreams. Gardens filled with beauty, sweet scents, music, silence. Gardens that would be places where people could meditate, play, make things, grow things, accomplish things, relate to other people, share, and most importantly, heal. Even now, as I tell you this, my idea of the gardens I want to create is so close to my very core that it brings tears to my eyes.

(excuse me for a minute: sniff, sniff...)

About 20 years ago, a very dear friend came into my life and with her came some light at the end of the tunnel. She thought I was great, she thought I could do all sorts of things and every word that came out of my mouth reminded her of a book or person that seemed in some synchronous way to be meant "for me". During those years, I left my marriage. It was not easy. But after years of blindly feeling alone, I was mercifully finding support and understanding from the most surprising people in my life, and I was regularly led to pick up and read writers and thinkers who were on my wavelength, or who were able to gently nudge me to look at things from a new and needed perspective.

The most important thing was that gradually I began to trust in my own, personal, deeply spiritual path. It was ok. I'm ok. I began to practice love and forgiveness toward myself. I learned to adore my own creative instincts. And as I began to express myself again, my desires and actions were upheld by my community and the universe.

As I look back on the last 20 years, all the upheaval and heartache, I can consistently point to incident after incident where the only explanation is Divine intervention: the shoulder to cry on, the prods to go out on the town, to a concert, the books, the friends who consistently were in "my corner", the friends who shared lonely Christmas dinners when the losses seemed to hurt the most, the opportunity to move out of the city, the new friends who have come into my life, even my move to this farmhouse.

Strangely enough, it took being broken into pieces by the dissolution of my marriage for me to give up the pretense that I was ok, even though I felt thorougly and miserably like a failure, slipping further and further behind, "safe" behind my protective walls. Having no recourse but to say "I'm having trouble here," allowed me to accept the kindness and love of all sorts of people who had been waiting all along to give me love and kindness and understanding. Over and over again, I heard the words "I've been there!", and I started to realize that the miracle that we all share is our frail humanity. That realization, when I finally forgave myself for not being some paragon drawn from external values, allowed me to begin loving myself for myself.

It has taken some time to see how my varied interests mesh together into what I dream I will create someday. And although I have no idea how or when or if my dream gardens will ever come to be, I happily continue to dream. BIG! And along the way, I'm having fun talking about my interests to anyone who is interested. And I'm learning things from all these fascinating and knowledgeable people!

Just the other day I commented to my mother that even a year ago, when I read a book on gardening with native plants, too many of the plants were totally foreign to me. This is all despite the fact that about 10 years ago, my best friend and I belonged to a garden club concentrating on native plants. Living in an environment surrounded by fields and woods has allowed me to become better acquainted with some native plants in the wild.

This is all to show me that my journey is still unpredictable but fun. It was always meant to be fun. I mean, fun for me. I'm quite sure gardens and plants etc are not fun for lots of other people. As Joseph Campbell said: follow your bliss. Maybe I'm finally learning that that is ok, that that is what I'm supposed to do. That's the best gift of myself that I can give the world. My dream of my garden may be bigger than my ability as I am now, alone, to bring it about, but again to quote Joseph Campbell:
A hero is someone who has given his or her life to something bigger than
oneself. --
The Power of Myth


Anonymous marja-leena said...

What a beautiful and inspiring story you have written here, Kati!

7:58 p.m.  
Blogger Kati said...

Thanks, Marja-Leena!

8:07 p.m.  
Blogger OldRoses said...

It's your blog. Write what you want. If people don't like what you write, no one is forcing them to read it. I love your posts. In more ways than you know, you and I are very much alike.

9:35 a.m.  
Blogger Robert Brinkmann said...

You go girl! Nicely said!!

6:59 p.m.  
Blogger Xris said...

Kati: I've kept this and your How Dare I posts bookmarked until I could reply. It's taken me all this time to get back to them. Looking at the dates of your original posts, I realize why I couldn't respond to them in a more timely manner.

The journey you describe is familiar to me. I would describe it as a journey of "recovery", in the broadest and richest meanings that word can hold: recovery of self, recovery of spirit, recovery of joy in life and living.

My favorite relevant quote is from Marianne Williamson. Nelson Mandela used this in a speech and it's often mis-attributed to him for this reason. I don't care for her myself; I find her far too woo for my tastes. And the references to "God" are not part of my beliefs; I'm a staunch atheist. But the quote stands on its own.

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us.

We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?

You are a child of God.
Your playing small does not serve the world.
There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you.

We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us.
It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone.

And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.

As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."

Shine on, Kati.

11:12 p.m.  
Blogger Kati said...

thanks for your kind comments, xris! I was familiar with the quote, one of my favorites, often reminding myself to be myself with the line "We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?
Actually, who are you not to be?"
Thanks for clearing up to whom the quote should be attributed; I had been confused by seeing it attributed to both authors.

3:21 p.m.  

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